BBC Scotland hits back at claims it is ignoring Scottish independence marches

A previous AUOB march.
A previous AUOB march.
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The BBC has hit back at columnist Lesley Riddoch claims about their coverage of independence marches in a strongly worded letter sent to the Scotsman.

You can read the full missive, from BBC Scotland's editor of newsgathering Howard Simpson, below.

"Lesley Riddoch (Why won’t the BBC report on independence marches across Scotland?) maintains that BBC Scotland has provided ‘no coverage’ of the All Under One Banner marches held this summer.

"While I’m always happy to debate a range of matters with Ms Riddoch, her accusation that there has been a ‘persistent absence’ of reporting the marches is completely without foundation. She begins with this assertion – no coverage again.

"It seems that she has missed the BBC Scotland News coverage across TV, radio and online of many All Under One Banner marches including those in Aberdeen, Galashiels, Oban, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness, and Dumfries over the last 18 months.

"Indeed a simple digital search would have quickly shown Ms Riddoch a wide selection of our online coverage of these events.

"Over the same period, our television news bulletins have covered numerous rallies in support of independence including those organised by All Under One Banner and others such as the Hope over Fear Independence Rally in Glasgow and the Stornoway Independence March.

"It will not be possible for the BBC to cover every march every time – there are, after all, dozens of marches about a range of issues taking place across Scotland every weekend – but it is utterly misleading to suggest pro-independence rallies are the subject of a news blackout.

"Ultimately, the level of coverage in any given weekend will depend on a range of factors, including what other stories are on the news agenda that day. This past weekend saw a number of arrests and a police officer injured as two Republican marches were held in Glasgow.

"There can surely be no doubt that as Scotland’s biggest city was disrupted due to sectarian tensions, with police bussed in from around the country, the BBC had a duty to cover what was a developing news event.

"The ongoing debate about whether Scotland should be an independent country is a hugely important story which is given high levels of coverage across our news output.

"This coverage includes the All Under One Banner marches already reported by the BBC this year."

Howard Simpson

News Editor & Editor of Newsgathering

BBC Scotland